Thursday, August 14, 2014


Chess is a very complex sport, requiring the mastery of a multitude of skills and elements of the game. Let's focus on 3 points: 1. knight on the rim; 2. bishops of opposite colors; confronting the decision: draw vs loss.

One of the most fascinating and instructive annotated games ever published is found in Adrain Mikhalchishin and Oleg Stetsko's Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen [Zurich: Edition Olms] 2012, pp. 125ff. I have provided some computer analysis of this game below (QGD D43):
After 25.Kf1, GM Mikhalchishin proposes 25.  . . . Bd7!?; 26.a4 Bc6; 27.Nd6 Be5; 28.Rc1 Bxd6;
29.Rc3 Bb4; 30.Rc2 Rd8; with a dynamic equality.  For example:  26.Nc5 Bc6; 27.b4 Rd8; 
28.Ke1 a5; 29.bxa5 Na4. Mikhalchishiin also states that after the text move 26.Nc5 Bxc4? can
be replaced by 26. . . . Na4; 27.Nxe6 Bxa1; 28.bxa4 fxe6; 29.Bxe6 Kg7 30.Nxe4 where it is 
proposed that if White's position is winning at all, it is a complex, difficult one to find and execute.  
Mikhalchishin and Stetsko further mention the rim-knight idea evidently first coined by the
master Siegbert Tarrasch, and proposes that in this case, Carlsen does find a most creative way to
use the rim-knight to his advantage in punishing Onischuk for his previously played innacuracies.
My comment: play the position and keep your mind clear of chess cliches.

It is also said that "bishops of opposite color" endgames are always drawn.  This may or may not be
true. Indeed, Carlsen (white) beat Sergey Karjakin at Wijk san Zee (Tata Steel) 2013, R=8 in 92 moves in a bishops of opposite color endgame with connected central passed pawns and advanced king.  The point: to win a chess game requires lots of guts, fortitude, endurance, and a sharp, keen
eye for accuracy.  Bottom line: to win a chess games requires lots of hard work. The reward can be
winning the tournament vs not winning it.  

Note, that for move 54. . . . g4; I substituted 54. . . . Bc8; not moving black's
g-pawn yet (winning vs drawing a complex endgame often depends on
Zugzwang {running out of good moves} so one wants to save pawn moves
to the point when one absolutely needs to move them. This substitution seems
to allow Black to hold the position. If there are readers out there who can 
find a winning line for White from this point even with my 54. . . . Bc8 move, 
I would be please to see the line.  Please note your win in a "comment" and play 
out the line to a forced win. [Will Wisdom had an idea that in the Note to the text move
54. . . . g4, ( better is: 54. . . . Bc8;  But, White wins by bringing King around the board to 62. Ka7;
63.Ka8; 64.Kb8 as follows): 55.Ke5 g4 56.c5 Ke8 57.c6 Bf5 58.Kd6 Be4 59.Kc7 Bd5
60.Kb6 g3 61.hg3 Be6 62.Ka7 Bc8 63.Ka8 Ba6 64.Kb8 g5 65.c7 Kd7 66.g4 Ke8
67.c8=Q Bc8 68.Kc6 Kf7 69.Kd7 and game over!] The conclusion: the king is a
fighting piece, especially in an endgame. This analysis is good for
 a tournament like the BCC's Charles Draft Memorial, your best bet in a bishops
of opposite color endgame, is to force your opponent to prove the draw. Since
endgames of this duration often include time-pressure situations, the player who can fight
on, cooly and accurately, is more than likely to win a bishops of opposite color endgame.
Again, a win gives you a greater chance to claim the 1st prize in the tournament
or in your section.
To draw, or not to draw, that is the question!
The temptation is great: to stretch a drawn position to the point where it takes
your opponent to come up with some precise, punishing moves, to refute your
brazen, (reckless) decision. Well, Ivan Saric (2671) found such moves vs 
Magnus Carlsen (2877) in their encounter in Round 10 of the Tromso FIDE
Chess Olympiad 2014 in a Ruy Lopez (Bird's Defense ECO: C61)
First, let it be remembered, that the most common move for White, after 3. . . . Nd4;
4.Nxd4 exd4 (defining the Bird's Defense) is 5.d3 and that can be played out to
a draw with accurate, theoretically known moves [see text above].  Saric tried 5.Bc4!? 
but after 7. . . . Be7, it seems that Black has attained equality.  On move 10. . . . Bd6!?
Carlsen played what I categorize as a "fun" move. The computer brought black
equality on move 41. . . . Bb7 [see note to move 10. . . . Bd6, above], 
after the more "circumspect" 10. . . . Bd7,  supporting the subsequent . . . Bc6; 
and . . . Bxd5 creating a rather balanced, equal position. But should we think that 
Carlsen, not only rated 206 points higher than his 24 yr old opponent from Croatia, 
but more significantly, being the reigning World Chess Champion,
World Rapids Champion and World Blitz Champion, would think of 
contemplating a draw so early in the game?  Not likely!  Carlsen is a fighter, at the 
very least.  But we see that even with all of Carlsen's intriguing attempts to obfuscate 
the position at so many points, Saric found the global refutation to Carlsen's play and 
should be praised for his courage and poise, over the board, in confronting such a formidable opponent as Magnus Carlsen  My only question is: should Carlsen have, as Board 1 of 
Norway's Olympiad Team "1", been happy to secure the half-point, in the name of 
team-spirit? I have yet to hear an interview with Carlsen on this most fascinating point: 
the responsibility for the team vs the playing out of one's egotistic, risky plans.
It is my view, that maintaining equality throughout the game is not an easy task,
especially when you've decided not to "complicate things" vs an opponent who you
feel you should beat. Yet, by keeping things level, you force your opponent to come
up with correspondingly adequate moves as well, to hold the fort, a nerve-racking
mental challenge, especially in time-pressure. This makes chess a sport as well as an
intellectual exercise: adding the psychological element of "doubt" in a time-scramble.
Well, dear chess players, this Saturday, August 16th, you will be confronted with
the decision: "to draw or not to draw . . . " As a team player, take the draw; yet, as
an individual tournament player, is not a half point better than a loss?  
This Saturday: your call!  Good luck and good chess.

AUGUST 16, 2014
See you there!
Check out the link below for some nice videos 
of Judith Polgar (FIDE: 2735 peek) in action 
as well as a compelling 2 part youtube 
of her analysis of the game:
Karpov - Polgar, Wijk aan Zee, 2003
in preparation for your participation in the 
BCC Charles Draft Memorial.

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